Gov. Dannel Malloy said he wants to raise the age of juveniles in the criminal court system to 18 to 21 for those who commit non-violent crimes.
Malloy spoke at the University of Connecticut Law School on Friday morning. He said we have been too committed to long-term incarceration and that many young people make mistakes and deserve a second chance.
“In Germany, they treat people arrested under the age of 21 as juveniles. We cut that off at 18,” Malloy said. “You can vote at 18. You can smoke at 18, but can't drink until you're 21. We have arbitrary rules."
Malloy said when prisoners get out of prison, they can't get jobs or even student loans.
"Today and in the future, I would like to start a statewide conversation about raising the age of eligibility for our juvenile justice system and considering how we think about our young offenders,” Malloy said.
Malloy said each inmate costs $120 per night.
“What we have been doing hasn't been working, so it’s time to evaluate other options,” Connecticut Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple said.
The governor is also proposing reduced penalties for those between the ages of 21 and 25, depending on the crimes committed.
Earlier this year, Malloy got his second chance society passed by the legislature. It reduces penalties on many drug offenses from a felony to a misdemeanor, it speeds up pardons for non-violent offenders and expedites the parole process.
But lawmakers, who will be asked to allow this, said they are skeptical and feel while age is a factor, punishment should fit the crime.
“I don't think we should be creating policy in the state of Connecticut that would let you off the hook or treat you differently just because of your age,” State Rep. Vinnie Candelora, who is Republican on judiciary committee, said.
The governor said his plan is to put a bill before the legislature this session. If approved by the legislature, Connecticut would be the first in the country.
Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald with the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association released a statement discussing Second Chance Society initiatives
"The Connecticut Police Chiefs have not been included in this discussion. There are other options currently in place to help young offenders,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said the discussion “for other options needs to include Police Chiefs, the courts and the States Attorney’s Office.
To read Malloy's full letter to the sentencing commission on Second Chance Society initiatives, click here.
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